I remember the feeling when the Dodgers traded for Adrian Gonzalez in 2012, happily paying the Carl Crawford tax because they could. It was a sinking feeling, the realization that the Dodgers had far more money than the Giants could ever dream of. No matter how successful the Giants were, the Dodgers would be able to outspend them.
And then the Giants won the World Series, and then they won it again. The last time, the Dodgers even finished ahead of the Giants in the standings, which was probably a good lesson. The Dodgers can spend, and the Dodgers can win, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Giants are hopeless.
Right now, though, things feel a little hopeless.
Part of it still has to do with the money. The Giants spend a lot. The Dodgers spend about $100 million more. This will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.
But it’s more than that. The Dodgers can spend more, but they also owe less to players in the future.
Guaranteed future salaries
2018 Giants: $150 million
2018 Dodgers: $178 million
2019 Giants: $118 million
2019 Dodgers: $108 million
2020 Giants: $114 million
2020 Dodgers: $89 million
2021 Giants: $76 million
2021 Dodgers: $32 million
So not only do the Dodgers have the $100 million difference (and growing) in payroll right off the top, but they’ll also have more flexibility in every offseason for the near future. It doesn’t help that most of their best players are young and cheap for a long time.
That’s the other part that rankles: The Dodgers are 71-31 — though just 70-32 by Pythagorean record, so, pfffft, they’ve been lucky -- and they’re doing it with young players. There are two players over 30 in the Dodgers’ lineup, and they have two MVP candidates who are younger than Chris Shaw. They have a vastly superior farm system to the Giants, which means the young, inexpensive players will keep coming, which will free them up to spend more money on old, expensive players. They’ll be set up perfectly to take advantage of the short-term benefits of veterans and ignore their eventual declines.
It’s not just the prospects and young players from within their system, either. It looks like the Dodgers are especially good at targeting undervalued commodities from other organizations and bringing out their best qualities. Take Chris Taylor. That’s what the Mariners said last year. Just take him. And now he’s having a better season than any Giants hitter has had since Buster Posey won the MVP. Can you even fathom the Giants polishing an unpolished hitter like that? I cannot. Last year, it was Andrew Toles. Austin Barnes probably deserves a mention here, and Justin Turner certainly does.
The Giants have acquired hitters from outside the organization. Can’t remember a single one who’s hit better than expected since Gregor Blanco.
While my goal wasn’t to bum you out, I can see how that was unavoidable. So ... sorry? Sorry about that. Still, I have two pieces of advice for you:
Enjoy each Giants/Dodgers game separate from this context
The Giants have a winning record against the Dodgers this year. That doesn’t affect the Dodgers’ postseason hopes. But it’s still funny. Those games were still enjoyable to watch. And while it’s sad to go through life remembering Joe Morgan’s home run as one of the better moments in recent franchise history, I was at that game. I remember how loud and ecstatic the crowd was. They didn’t care that the Dodgers flayed the Giants in the ‘70s and used their skin as a ceremonial robe. They just cared that the Dodgers lost and the Giants won.
So care about the Dodgers losing and the Giants winning. I promise, it’s fun.
When the Giants actually win.
Hope for baseball to pants the Dodgers
You know how Chris Taylor is amazing this year, and Johnny Cueto is an injured, confusing mess? Root for those things, but in reverse. Hope for the Giants to find their own Taylor, then hope that one of the Dodgers’ All-Stars is inexplicably unable to help his team. Hope for the Giants’ low-ranked farm system to spit out 10 viable major leaguers and make the rest of the league to say, ha ha, didn’t see that coming!
That stuff can happen in baseball, alright. Joe Panik went from a first-round overdraft to a C+ prospect to a World Series-winning second baseman in a couple years. I’d gloat more, but then baseball took away all of our nice things.
It can give them back, though. It can give the nice things back. So while it looks like the Giants are absolutely screwed when it comes to competing with the Dodgers and will be for years, my response is this: Maybe they won’t be? You have to say that while uptalking, flinching, and forcing a fake smile at the end for the proper effect. Everything looks bad, and nothing looks good.
The only solace is that life comes at everyone fast, not just the Giants. It’s all we can root for, and it isn’t very comforting, but it’s still true. And it’s all we have right now.